Fossil Fuel Free In Antarctica: An Australian Demonstration Project With Hydrogen


"The Australian Government's hydrogen demonstration project , led by the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD), will operate out of Mawson station and a nearby penguin-monitoring field camp at Béchervaise Island, this summer. The project — the first of its kind in Antarctica — aims to investigate safety and operational aspects of using hydrogen, with a long-term view to running Australia's Antarctic field camps and stations without fossil fuels .Hydrogen generated by the wind turbines will also be stored in high pressure vessels at Mawson. If the demonstration project is a success, this hydrogen could be used to provide electricity and heating for the station when the wind drops, through a large scale fuel cell system or in an internal combustion engine generator". Design credits for system components are described on this page. System configuration and overall project relationships are described on this page . The project has symbolic importance well beyond practical benefits to Mawson Station. By adapting solar-to-hydrogen technology to Antarctic extremes, the equipment's wider utility in the most problematic winter conditions will have been proven. And, the "branding" of alternative energy gets a public relations boost. But, most important of all, we think, is that the project puts one more damper on naysayers who echo the myth that "hydrogen is not practical."

It's well understood that technology prototypes cost orders of magnitude more than commodity items that might grow out of the prototyping experience. The unique thing about this Antarctic prototype, however, is that it's cost effectiveness is almost dimensionless during the coldest period of the year, when no new fossil fuels can be brought in, a lengthy time during which Station personnel must be absolutely self reliant. In that sense, the project is a metaphor for a society more in tune with the wider risks of climate change and long term depletion of fossil fuel reserves.

Via: Technology Trends .